Lisa Jarnot was born in Buffalo, New York in 1967 and studied at the State University of New York at Buffalo and Brown University. Since the mid-1990s she has been a resident of New York City.
She has edited two small magazines (No Trees, 1987-1990, and Troubled Surfer, 1991-1992) as well as The Poetry Project Newsletter and An Anthology of New (American) Poetry (Talisman House Publishers, 1997).

She is the author of four full-length collections of poetry: Some Other Kind of Mission (Burning Deck Press, 1996), Ring of Fire (Zoland Books, 2001 and Salt Publishers, 2003), Black Dog Songs (Flood Editions, 2003) and Night Scenes (Flood Editions, 2008). Her biography of the San Francisco poet Robert Duncan was published by the University of California Press in 2012 and was shortlisted for the National Book Critics Circle Award, the Randy Shilts Award for Gay Non-Fiction, and received Honorable Mention in Literature from American Publishers Awards program. A Selected Poems was published by City Lights in May of 2013. She currently lives in Jackson Heights, New York with her husband and daughter. She works as a teacher, writer, and freelance gardener.